I had a hankering to make a new dish, and since I had some ricotta that I didn’t use for another recipe, and some chicken breasts in the freezer I thought there must be a dish out there using those items. I Googled Chicken Ricotta and found a bunch of recipes. I picked one and went for it. I am a bit allergic to tomatoes and tomato sauces, but I eat now and pay later. If I have just a little sauce I am ok, like on a pizza, but who want’s just a little sauce on an Italian dish? I was thinking maybe a salsa type sauce would be better – less tomato – more chili, I always say.
I am one of those people who can’t resist changing a recipe, be it out of lack of ingredients or just for curiosity and a feeling of “I can do it better than this”. We had a guest at our Albuquerque bed and Breakfast hailing from Australia who saw me pondering the ricotta cheese, and she said she always added lime zest to ricotta when she uses it as a stuffing. Out of the Land Down Under was born Southwest Style Chicken Ricotta.
I have perfected it and here is my recipe. PLEASE feel free to mess around with it. I sure would.
Chicken Ricotta, Southwest Style
4/8oz chicken breasts (ha! as if you can actually find them the same size and 8 oz at that!)
8 oz whole milk ricotta cheese (ok – here’s my beef, so to speak – don’t use lowfat cottage cheese – this is NOT Chicken Cottage Cheese, it is Chicken Ricotta, and how many calories do you really think you are gonna save by doing this!)
3 tbsp shredded Italian Blend cheese (mozzarello, asiago, cheddar, provolone, and you may substitute and grated cheese you like – I am going to try it with a mild to medium sharp cheddar next time)
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese (this is a must for the strength of the taste and texture of the mix)
2 tbsp finely minced shallot
1 tbsp minced jalapeño (or more depending on heat, I say, more!)
zest of one lime (don’t use those pithy, thick skin limes – find some nice smooth skin Mexican Limes!)
1/2 tsp oregano leaves (fresh is best, but whatever you have will work)
1/2 tsp granular garlic (or minced garlic cloves to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
Stuffing chicken breasts is not my forte, so if it isn’t yours either, slice up the breasts, (as seen in the picture), and pound out if necessary to be very big and flat.
In a large bowl beat 1 egg, add ricotta and mix well. Then add the cheeses and spices and mix them in evenly.
1 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper
Set aside 1/2 cup flour on a plate and beat the eggs in a bowl and set aside
Mix bread crumbs, 2 tbsp flour and spices together in a wide bowl or plate.
Preheat oven to 350º
Spoon enough of the cheese mix onto each of the chicken breasts, fold over, tuck and secure with toothpicks so that cheese stays inside. Roll each piece in flour, then dip in egg and coat with breading mix.
Heat 3 tbsp oil in skillet until it shimmers and brown each piece of chicken on both sides. Set them into a slightly oiled baking dish and bake for approximately 30 minutes to cook chicken through.
For a sauce I suggest any kind of salsa, but not too hot so to not overpower the taste of the chicken and cheeses. I used:
1 or 2 cans Ro-tel’s Diced Tomatos with Lime Juice & Cilantro
(depending whether or not you have tomato impaired people at your house), mixed and heated with 1/2 cup Cervantes prepared red chili
Serve chicken over a bed of shredded lettuce
spoon salsa over and top with a dollop of sour cream
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!